- "We believe all that God has revealed, all that he does now reveal, and we believe that he will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
The Nature of Revelation
Mormons believe that revelation in the form of inspiration through the Holy Spirit, prophetic dreams, visions, visitations of angels, and so on continue today. Mormonism teaches that every member of the Church and every accountable person on earth who sincerely and earnestly seeks to know the will of God in his life is entitled to revelation from God. Such revelation will teach a person which actions will lead him to happiness. Happiness entails following the teachings of Jesus Christ, receiving guidance through the Light of Christ, and obtaining the companionship of the Holy Ghost.
Revelation has always been a part of Christ’s Church especially to the Church’s leaders known as prophets. Amos 3:7 reads, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” Today, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are set apart in the Church as prophets, seers, and revelators. While only the President of the Church is authorized to receive revelation for the whole Church, members can receive revelation for themselves, their families, and their areas of authority in the Church. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught:
I will inform you that it is contrary to the economy of God for any member of the Church, or any one, to receive instructions for those in authority, higher than themselves; therefore you will see the impropriety of giving heed to them; but if any person have a vision or a visitation from a heavenly messenger, it must be for his own benefit and instruction; for the fundamental principles, government, and doctrine of the Church are vested in the keys of the kingdom. . . And again we never inquire at the hand of God for special revelation only in case of there being no previous revelation to suit the case; and that in a council of High Priests.
- History of Church 7 Vols. 1:338, 339
Every worthy member of the Mormon Church is blessed with the gift of the Holy Ghost. Joseph Smith said, “The Holy Ghost is a revelator; no man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelations.” Every person is entitled to personal revelation for his or her own benefit. Those in leadership positions within the Church, such as a Bishop or Stake President, may receive revelation for the members over whom they preside. However a Bishop can’t receive revelation for an entire stake, because his authority is only over the ward. Parents are also entitled to receive revelation on behalf of their entire family and their children.
Revelation from God is always based on his eternal principles, in that God's revelation always remains harmonious to His eternal principles and laws. This is an important note, such that a person can learn to discern between what is of God and what is not. Such principles, for example, can be found in Doctrine and Covenants chapter 50, and 1 Corinthians 2:14
Necessity of Revelation
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints value the Bible and the Book of Mormon as sources for revelation about the organization of Christ’s Church, the commandments, plan of salvation, the process of repentance, important spiritual events such as Christ’s life and ministry, and as an example of God’s dealings with men. However these are not the only sources of God’s revelations.
Revelation is essential. Instruction given to past generations may not always be suitable for future generations. For example in the Old Testament, God instituted the law of animal sacrifice through revelation. The purpose of animal sacrifice was to remind the people of the Savior who would come and give his life as a sacrifice for sin and redeem all men. However, when Christ came and performed this act, there was no longer a need for animal sacrifice. A new law of sacrifice was revealed and asked that members give of their time, substance, and talents to help build up Christ’s Church.
Since man is prone to errors and misunderstandings, modern revelation is also needed to help clarify, and interpret past revelation. God continues to reveal guidance and commandments to help his faithful followers avoid the difficulties of the world and build His Kingdom on earth.
Revelation is also needed to confirm the truthfulness of scripture. The Holy Ghost testifies of Jesus Christ's role as the Savior and can also testify of the truthfulness of the Bible and the Book of Mormon, leading men to treasure scripture and to look to Christ for salvation.
Revelation given to each person for his personal life, both in the spiritual and temporal context, are called "personal revelation". Such revelation for the individual is given to guide his or her life, and to assist that person to remain obedient to God's will and word. Even these personal revelations are given in accordance with such eternal principles as spoken by the Old Testament prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 28:10,13, a "line by line" guidance. This is because God does not control the free will and choice of any person and shows this perfect wisdom by allowing that person to learn and grow, through his own choices, with each personal revelation given.
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, people receive personal revelation to help them with their own stewardships. A stewardship is an area of responsibility in the home, at work, or in church service. (Click here to read about an instance of personal revelation.)
The Mormon Church has an "open canon of scripture." The meaning of this statement is that God continually speaks to His children, and He does so through His spirit in the form of personal revelation, and also through prophets to the world. The Mormon Church declares that there are now prophets called of God to preach truth to the world and gather the righteous...and the wicked who are willing to repent. These prophets receive revelation on a continuing basis. Comfort, healing, and safety are available to all who will heed their words.
Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland explains continuing revelation: